When Did We Start Hating Our Children?

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In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a trend in the world of parent blogging.

Namecalling.

Not between bloggers, but bloggers calling their children names. An arsehole, a wanker, a shit. We have a new wave of parent blogs ‘keeping it real’ by being, in my opinion, kind of awful. Is it for the LOLs, is it for the page views or the controversy? I don’t know but I don’t like it.

I agree as much as the next truthful person that when it comes to blogging it’s important to tell a complete story. One of the biggest surprises to me shortly after giving birth was that motherhood wasn’t that rainbow-laced dream we’re sold by Hollywood. It took me literally months to get over the fact that, holy crap, this is hard. HARD. The hardest thing I’ve ever done and will ever do, for sure.

Which is why I’ve always thought it important to write about the parts of parenting I found a struggle; having a baby with a genetic disease, the repetitive punch in the face that is PND, splitting from my husband with a tiny baby and toddler, the sleep deprivation that never ends, how I felt I didn’t bond with my baby. This is life, this is motherhood, this ain’t easy.

But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. Nothing can ever describe how being a parent changes your life; it’s a core-shaker, an internal earthquake that leaves you empty of everything (including money, sorry to say). It also leaves you fuller than you’ve been before, overflowing with love and joy and everything that’s good in the world, and this really is the bit that Hollywood gets right.

I want the people who read my blog to know about ALL these parts of motherhood.

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I have a theory about the things we talk and write about in life. This theory has helped me recover from the awfulness that was simultaneous PND and divorce (YAY! it was a laugh a minute at my house for a couple of months there).

It’s a fake it until you make it kind of theory and goes a little bit like this; if you spend your days chomping on about how hard life is, how difficult it is to be a parent, how godawful your children are, then that’s the way your life will be. If you get to the end of the day and say, by god, that was a challenge. But I got through it with my two beautiful children, then boom! Appreciation and happiness central.

Negativity breeds negativity, versus she believed she could but she did. I believe I can, so I do, and I think only (OK, mostly) happy thoughts to be a happy person.

Every day I count my blessings and look at how many good things the universe has given me. My family has its struggles but we are so lucky; I’ve never lost a child like far too many women I know, I have the want and ability to work and support my family (which means in turn I can buy fun stuff like rugs and cushions for our lovely house), we are healthy (ish) and have so much love to give each other. My children are in no way perfect – Hux’s current favourite hobbies are pushing people and eating food off the floor – but he’s a toddler. I’m nearly 30 and I’m not perfect, either.

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I would die before I called my child a name. I am so aware that everything I write about them lives on the internet forever and I would never want them to read about how often mummy moaned I had shitty pants or that I cried all day at the park so was a little wanker. For my kids to believe I was thinking that about them would be heartbreaking.

I think thoughts I’m not proud of sometimes as I’m sure most or all mums do, but it’s these times I hide in the kitchen with a packet of hobnobs or a glass of wine and pull myself together to be the parent I want to be once again.

My children aren’t wankers or shits, they are 2 and 4 and behave in that way because they are looking for boundaries, love and guidance. I refuse to roll my eyes at my tantruming son who has been on the planet only 1000 days but will instead give him what he needs: to be made to feel loved and cherished. After a short spell on the naughty step, natch.

Who’s with me in the fight for realism vs sensationalism when it comes to parent blogging? Let’s keep it real but also remember how bloody lucky we are.

The days are long but the years are short. I’m off to give my two beautiful troublemakers a huge squeeze.

 

58 Comments
  1. I’m absolutely with you. I saw a similar post on Along Came Cherry the other day, also about how negativity breeds negativity and how that inevitably affects the littles. And yes, there’s also the fact (and it is a fact) that we are insanely lucky to be living the lives we are. The majority of the bloggers I follow are Western and on a global scale they are therefore well-off, comfortable, able to raise their kids in a safe environment. What do we have to complain about, really? And then, as you say, there’s the beautiful troublemakers themselves who simply deserve better than being called names. I appreciate honesty, and I don’t believe in putting on pretenses or sugar-coating things, but name-calling? How pointless and disrespectful.

    1. You’re so right. The majority of us live incredible lives of privilege – we’ll never have to worry about our children being educated or fed – and that is something we must never ever stop being thankful for. I very much agree that name-calling is pointless and disrespectful to our children.

  2. I am a first time mum and have a baby girl at 4 months old. I was so excited when I was pregnant and had the hollywood rainbow ideal but boom was I smacked down to reality when baby Isabella arrived. It is sooo hard and I have found so much comfort in your blog that it is ok to find things hard. A friend posted a link on Facebook to one of these blogs and I was horrified. My baby can be a little madam sometimes but the idea of referring to her as a wanker is repulsive to me. I think people forget that the internet is a public domain and the info there is here to stay and your child has to go to school! Let’s be honest there is nothing more cruel than children to other children. I was disgusted that one particular blogger had photos of her sons who apparently were wankers and little shits!

    1. Congratulations on your new baby Sarah! Nail on the head here – I’d be horrified if I saw my child calling another kid a dickhead, so why would it ever be OK for me to do it to them?

  3. I couldn’t agree more! I cringe at some of the name calling I see online and hope to goodness that their children never see it one day. I’m not sure they would see the funny side at all. It’s not ‘real’ it’s sensationalism but at what cost? Ugh.

  4. Whaaaaaat?!!!! I am completely shocked! I am so glad I can’t follow any of those awful people because if I saw anyone talking like that I would immediately hit the unfollow button. I just don’t get it. And I’ve been that annoying person in a supermarket before now, when someone has been swearing at their children saying “Oh dear (to my child) that’s a horrid way to talk isn’t it?” and giving them a look. Do you know every time they’ve looked mortified and so they should. Ghastly people whose children will fly the nest and not want to come back. Being a parent is hard but writing about your children like that isn’t keeping it real it’s just attention seeking. For the wrong attention! Great post xxxx

    1. What a stupid comment to leave. These people are not awful. These people are having a harder time that you. You absolute ignorant person. How dare you!!!

      1. I don’t think I must have got my point across. Everyone has hard days, of course we do, my boys test me to my limits and beyond but what I meant was I can’t see any way I would describe my boys like the way Alice’s post relayed. About the name calling. Calling your children swear words. I can’t stand the people who do, when I hear them in supermarkets. I don’t think that’s being ignorant. Do you think it’s ok to call your children those sorts of names? I’m sorry if my comment offended you, but I was actually agreeing with the sentiment of Alice’s post.

  5. I can’t imagine calling Matilda anything like that. She’s hard work but I would never tell the internet she’s a wanker! Bloody hell. I sometimes find it difficult to put into words how wonderful and how difficult parenting is but you’ve done it perfectly. It is a core shaker but I would never change it. Nothing beats looking at your child and thinking ‘she is bloody awesome!’.

  6. I love this post and I totally agree…I think it’s repulsive and about as unfunny as it gets to name call your children. I want my children to know how loved they are. Of course it’s hard, sometimes it’s bloody hard and I’ve been there in the kitchen with the hobnobs too but I see that as my failing, not theirs and we get up and fight another day, together, as a family. Great post!

  7. I think for me the important thing to get across with my honest writing bits on my blog is how hard I’ve found parenting – but that it’s not the child’s fault and they’re not doing it deliberately. So I would be ok to say the child was driving me mad or frustrating me beyond belief and that my reactions to them expose my worse traits but not that the child was bad or at fault. I think it’s the ownership of the situation and honest reflection of being human that I seek in other posts on other blogs. There’s so many nuanced reasons we (I) find parenting hard and I like to explore that and try and become better at it and blogs which do that really help. A couple of posts I’ve read on other blogs recently seem to do that at first but also seem to revel in the bad parts when for me parenting is both good and bad at the exact same time.

  8. Completely agree Alice! I always try to be honest when I’m writing my blog and have been upfront when times are tough, but never ever would I call my children names or use them to get traffic as after all that seems to be what these kind of blogs are after. It’s that extreme sensationalised rubbish that turns me off the blogging world, whether it’s pretending everything’s perfect and putting on a show or going to the other extreme and mocking your children – it’s not for me. Great blog post xx

  9. I think the thing that upsets me the most about this current trend is that it’s unpleasantness dressed up as honesty. You can’t just go through life saying what you want because “it’s the truth”. We seemed to go through a weird shift around ten years ago, here in the UK, when “being honest” was suddenly valued over being kind. I clearly remember housemates in Big Brother saying awful awful things to each other and then explaining it as them being honest. They genuinely thought that it was better to tell someone what they thought of them, rather than keep it to themselves. But being “honest” to fellow grown ups is one thing… being “honest” (read: mean) about your kids, when you know they’ll be able to read it themselves one day? Crazy!

  10. i cant tell you how much i agree with you on this issue. i’ve never understood how ppl act like their children are deliberately trying to annoy them when they are children just being children! i too try to look for positives rather than focus on the negative or the things i cant change but apparently for some that’s just me being “fake” lol! this is an excellent post x

  11. Totally agree. There’s a line between being humorously honest, and being pretty horrid about your own children, and far too many bloggers are crossing it sadly

  12. Totally, it’s words that shape their worlds and their lives… whether we name-call to their faces or whilst referring to them when they’re not around, it all counts. Yes kids can be frustrating etc etc blah blah, but they’re kids and that old tosh about sticks and stones simply isn’t true…

  13. Eh, I think context is important here. I don’t hate my kids (and I don’t think I’ve ever called them wankers on social media) but they certainly can be little shits sometimes and denying that would be disingenuous. Yes it’s tiredness, hunger, frustration, testing boundaries, exploring their environment etc etc etc but it doesn’t make it any less shitty when I’m up to my neck in work, laundry, stress, whatever is loading my plate that day (usually all of the above).

    If 30 seconds tweeting “jeez the kids are being shits” from the comfort of the loo (my hiding place of choice) brings me a moment of clarity, a supportive response or a “this too shall pass” from another mother who’s been there and got the badges to show for it, and allows me to breathe and carry on then surely this is better than reaching breaking point and taking out my anger, my stress, my frustration on them directly?

    Sure in an ideal world I’d be the perfect mother with the perfect home, I wouldn’t have to work all day and worry about money, I’d have a never-ending supply of patience and a high-horse from which I could tweet constantly about how glorious my angels are all the time, but it’s not an ideal world and yes, sometimes my kids are shits.

    1. Amusingly, having defended my right to call my kids shits, I’ve just checked about 3 months worth of tweets and I’ve not actually done it. Perhaps my self-restraint is stronger than I thought. :p

      1. I totally agree! And would like to point out I haven’t had a total sense of humour bypass this weekend ;)

        I think lots of my offence comes from, similar to what Alison said upthread, parents dressing name calling of their kids up as honesty and doing it persistently. I’ve laughed out loud at a couple of humorous twitter updates of mums doing this but it’s when they are calling their kids dicks, wankers or little shits every single day that I find it hard to take.

        FYI my kids have now worked out that I sometimes linger in the loo longer than needed. No-where is sacred anymore!

  14. Wow! Who would call their children names on their blog, or any other place for that matter! I am the first one to say that my 21 month old daughter is a diva, she’s high needs, demanding and stubborn but those are traits that will serve her well as she grows up and something I actually admire in her. I would never call her names over it though!

    Definitely with you on keeping it real but not mean!

  15. I’m really shocked at this, and have never seen any blogs with anyone saying anything like this and can’t understand why they would do that. I’m Mum to a 7.5 year old and an 8 month old and we have good and bad days but I would never, ever do that. It’s just awful!

    My baby is going through a lot with allergies and we are at the lovely weaning stage where we are in the danger zone and don’t know how she is going to take them. New foods are always introduced with a big deep breath and crossed fingers for luck!

    “Keeping it real” is a lot of crap! Their children are going to grow up and see what’s been written and how are they going to feel? Being a parent is the most rewarding yet difficult job in the world. None of us are perfect, we all get frustrated, angry, upset or annoyed but we have to remember they are just children. My baby is having a terrible time with teething and we haven’t had an uninterrupted nights sleep for nearly a month. Is there any point in shouting about it? No! It’s just part of the job and I always keep the thought in the back of my head that it’s only a phase and one that she will grow out of.

    Babies don’t stay wee forever and we need to take the good with the bad, stay patient and ride the storm.

    Cx

  16. Absolutely couldn’t agree more. It’s just not funny to see somebody write that about a child. It’s distasteful and simply awful behaviour… and definitely not something that I can relate to or understand in any way. I like to think of myself and my blog as ‘real’ and to me, using vile insults at the expense of children isn’t the way. Parenting is hard but I often remind myself that it is not a right but a privilege and when my little cherubs are acting out- it’s probably when they need more love than ever from me… as hard and as frustrating as that may feel some days!

    Wonderful post!

    x Maria x

  17. I could never call my son something negative. We can moan to our partners, friends, family, the internet (maybe) but never in front of or at our children. As a parent you’re the centre of their universe. MIght not always seem like it but we all know how much what our parents said and did when we were young stayed with us, for better or for worse. So why the heck would you ever want to make your child feel bad? Give them love. Nothing else.

  18. Ah kids *sigh*
    When I started writing, I did genuinely feel I would be brutally honest and the odd ‘he or she is an asshole’ would feature fairly often…yet, for every post I start to draft, they tend to end up mushier than planned and I am yet to chastise them to the big wide world. Truth is, my kids are bloody tough but they are also ace.

    Ps. I should probably admit to referring to my daughter as a shit tonight when she kept turning her bedroom light back on. RAH

  19. YES! I totally agree, I know someone who constantly calls her girls bitches and cows, in front of them and out in public (they are 3 and 18 months) and I find it awful! Don’t get me wrong, I do say Sienna is sometimes doing my head in or is being a brat/diva but not in front of her and only to my fiancé on the really hard days. I would never dream of calling any child of mine a bitch, or wanker or shit. It’s bloody awful and isn’t setting example at all!

  20. I couldn’t agree more! Nobody’s perfect but as you say, they are kids! Yes, they can be extremely exasperating, but that’s part of the fun. It’s such hard work bringing up these little pickles, but despite tantrums and ruined carpets, I wouldn’t have it any other way x

  21. Great post. I totally agree, it’s vulgar, distasteful and says more about the parent than the child that are trying to humiliate! It’s sad though, that it is a kind of accurate picture of society today though, you only have to go to the doctors waiting room or local Tesco to hear language like this being used…..just the other day me and my little girl heard a mother tell her little son, “will you just f****ing shut up, you wee sh*t”! It was all I could go to not walk over and give her an earful. Good on ya for highlighting it on here!

    1. Yes – this is something that really resonates with me! I think that if you wouldn’t say it to your child in the supermarket, then why say it to the whole internet?

  22. Lovely post but I don’t get why you would put your son on the naughty step when you say he wants to feel loved and cherished? Doesnt that acheive exactly the opposite? Xx

  23. I love this. Light & dark are always found together but like you I choose to focus on the positive & see the good it sometimes trying situations. I’m all for freedom of speech but when i focus on the negative I feel worse! Plus, as you say, I don’t ever want my child to look back on any of that

  24. Amen!! God knows kids drives us nuts someday but name calling is just stupid and courting sensationalism and page views, I suppose. You need to declutter your social media as you’re clearly following the wrong shits. They are just plain honest wankers!

  25. I read somewhere once that when telling off a kid it was more productive and positive to say “I don’t like this BEHAVIOUR right now” than “I don’t like YOU right now”. It places the emphasis away from the person and gives them confidence to fix what is annoying / upsetting / hurting others. By calling a kid “a shit” we’re doing the latter; by amusingly pointing out that they’re “being shitty” it’s more of the former (obviously you know I don’t advocate saying either to the kid’s face, I’m just I think drawing a line between what I find funny / real / resonant and what, like you, I find a bit much).

    Not being perfect, I’m sure I’ve fallen into both categories, and I expect I will carry on doing so – but I kind of like that as a general rule to live by which helps me get the stress and strain of the bad days out without leaving too much of a breadcrumb trail of bitterness across the internet for her to find when she’s older. After all, even when she’s behaving dreadfully – something she is more than capable of – she’s still my favourite person on earth.

  26. I totally agree with you. Not only would it be awful if the children read these blog posts one day, moreover they are read, will be read by a public who could be influenced by them: young adults, young professionals, who will be one day parents and might think that it’s normal to resent your children and call them names. Maybe teenagers who will think that if parents call their own children these names then it’s ok to use the same vocabulary towards their own parents or friends. I know it’s supposedly ‘tongue in cheek’ and it might sound prudish to deplore it but the reality of it is that it normalises name calling, doesn’t it?

  27. I’m obviously reading the nice blogs, because I’ve not come across any of this. But I’m with you. Children are just children. I do share some stuff, and actually in real life I’m a real moaner. But my son is brilliant, he might do a few annoying things, but he’s never anything more than a bit testing on a couple of habits. I might call him a little sod under my breath on occasion, but online in a post – it’s not what I’d want on my blog, and isn’t really what he is. If he was an ongoing nightmare, I’m not sure I’d want to be writing on my blog about him anyway. Certainly not my thoughts of him that he could read in future (or employees etc).

  28. wow! Thank you so much for writing this! Ice been noticing this a lot lately. Sarcastic posts from stressed out mums thinking it’s funny to call their kid a little shit. What I also find even more annoying is the new trend to put down other mums. I read a blog today where a mother lashed out at mums for giving their kids snacks during sporting practice, and mums who give out goodie bags at birthday parties. Sheesh! Don’t get me started!

  29. Wow – yours is the only parenting blog I read so I’ve not seen that. I just wanted to say that was a lovely piece.

  30. Wonderful article! I have thought this many times upon reading other blogs and do find it a bit offensive. Thanks for all the inspiring writing – one email I truly do look forward to receiving!

  31. Couldn’t agree more.

    When I read blogs and someone refers to their children this way I kind of cringe. I’m not saying that all children are angels, I know that isn’t true but to call your own child a name? I don’t, can’t get it.

    My boys can be trying at times, they drive me mad with their constant bickering. But…

    There are times when they’re angels and make me so proud I could cry. You’re right, our children need love and boundaries, not names.

    Absolutely brilliant post hun, and I found it thanks to Tots100 sharing it. I’m so pleased I have another great blog to read! :)

  32. A post like this has been burning in my gut for a few weeks now. Interesting that many are noticing it/feeling it too.

    I probably won’t write about it because it is too raw. While I know my parents did the very best with what they had, I *was* called names sometimes. And it wasn’t funny. And I still remember. And I also remember really just wanting them to accept me and show me love and patience and forgiveness in those moments. Calling children names will never, never be funny to me. I’d much prefer kindness rule.

    Great post. xo

  33. What are you all reading? I haven’t seen any of this, but am interested to see it first hand. I think I agree with you, but would like to see the context.

  34. Hi Alice, Just finding your blog after popping over from Carrie at Spaceforthebutterflies. Good to “meet” you. I completely believe in the “fake it till you make it” way and trying to stay out of the negativity cycle. Parenting is wonderful and difficult, we choose which one of those we want to cherish!

  35. I so agree with this. Everything you’ve said is just spot on. I am a very negative person but I suffer with three different mental health problems so it is in my nature. I have difficult days but I love my daughter more than anything in the world and I’d never call her a name on social media or my blog just to get a laugh or more views. I’m all for being honest, and if you think your child is a dick then I suppose you are entitled to think that… but keep it to yourself. There’s just no need to share things like that with the world.

  36. Yes. I couldn’t agree more. Especially negativity breeding negativity. I’ve noticed this recently too and can’t understand it at all. Brilliant post.

  37. I absolutely, 2 million percent agree with you, Alice. Isn’t it funny that saying something so normal and seemingly uncontroversial has become, well, controversial?! Don’t get me wrong, I love the funny, familiar tales that we share and it’s brilliant that us mums feel so comfortable in our network to be so honest. But goodness me, these are our children. I have moments where I shout and lose my temper, but like you, I am so grateful for every day. I lost my parents when I was young, I have friends who have children with very special needs and I have been poorly since my second baby was born. It just makes me want to snuggle them closer. I thank god we’re all here.

  38. Only just read this Alice, so my apologies I am late to the party. (Found your blog via Smallish article). I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling deeply uncomfortable and unsettled by people calling their children names in blogs. I’m afraid I’ve also heard it in unvirtual life too. I’ve heard one mum refer to her daughter as a ‘little bitch’ and her son as a ‘little shit’, in front of them. Horrendous. I think blogging is fab, I blog myself, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to bitch and moan about children, pretending it is in the name of honesty. I think we see in danger of tipping the balance over to posts that make for unpleasant reading and not ones we would want our children to read. Xx

    1. Thanks for your comment, Madeline!

      It’s been nice to not notice so much of this going on lately, hopefully it’s on its way out. But yeah, it’s never OK. Life is crap for us all sometimes and I think it’s how we deal with those shitty bits that make us who we are! x

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